07/02/2012 04:20 pm ET

Illinois Beer Consumption Down Since 2007, Bumping State From Top 5, Report Finds

Illinoisans were drinking significantly less beer per person in 2011 than in 2007, causing the state to fall from its spot as the state with the fifth most beer shipments, according to new analysis by the Washington, D.C.-based Beer Institute.

The institute found that per-capita beer consumption fell from about 56 six packs five years ago to roughly 53 per person in 2011, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Bill Olson, executive director of the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois, said multiple factors could contribute to the shift, including the 2009 state tax hike, raising fees up to 23.1 cents per gallon on top of the 58-cents-per-gallon federal tax.

The shift bumps Illinois from fifth to sixth in the country for beer shipments, with Pennsylvania joining California, Texas Florida and New York in the top five, the Northwest Indiana Times reports. Olson told the newspaper that weather on big beer-drinking holidays like the July 4 can predict drops in sales, and also pointed to growing hard liquor sales to explain the consumption decrease.

Ignoring shipping rates, the study found that New Hampshire residents drink the most per capita, followed by North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota and Nevada, The Southern Illinoisan reports. Utah had the least per-capita beer consumption, likely attributable to the state's large Mormon population.

On a per capita basis, Illinois residents drank an average of 28.9 gallons in 2011, falling behind Wisconsin residents, who chugged 36.2 gallons of beer per capita that year, and more than 30 gallons per capita in neighboring Missouri and Iowa, the study found, according to the Herald-Review.

An earlier study suggests that that alcohol consumption, more generally, may not be evenly spread across Illinois. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released data in January indicating that one in five adults in the state drink alcohol in excess, earning Illinois a spot in the so-called "binge drinking belt" of Midwestern states that report the highest instances of overconsumption.

That same study found an increase in alcohol consumption in Chicago, with rates of respondents admitting to binge drinking, heavy drinking and drinking "at least one drink in the last month" outpacing national averages across the board.

Flickr photo by edkohler.